My worshiping community, the Live Oak Friends Meeting, has a new floor. And it’s a big deal.
The old floor was irreparably damaged approximately eighteen months ago, by a leak in the pipe leading to the hot water heater. It was a beautiful hardwood floor, and replacing it was no simple matter. The Meeting House contains a Skyspace by contemporary luminary (and illuminary) artist James Turrell. The replacement materials had to be approved by the artist, suppliers flaked, and the continuing discernment of the Meeting ground on. “The floor” has been a saga with a fair amount of drama, sometimes under the surface, sometimes on display.
During those eighteen months, the temporary solution was a large piece of industrial grade carpet, which covered the entire floor and made it possible for the Meeting to continue to use the space. While I had been to a concert there over five years ago, with the original floor, I had only experienced that utilitarian carpeting in the ten months that I have attended.
Last week, the doors opened, the early Meeting Friends were departing, and Adult First Day School was about to move into the space. My eyes opened wide, and I gasped. The wood floor had been installed! Simple but beautiful folding chairs, rather than our benches, were arranged in two facing semicircles. IT. WAS. GORGEOUS.
The floor had not been sanded yet, or finished, but it was there. You could smell the wood, just plain wood. Stepping into the room and onto the floor just FELT different. Solid, not squishy. The sound traveled and rang, rather than dropping and muffling, soaked up by the carpet. Unvarnished Truth.
As I sat, with my feet on the floor, I could feel my bones. I could feel my feet resting, leaning, if you will, into the floor, and the floor supporting my whole skeleton. The floor was firm, unyielding, the grounding truth, reliable in its presence, someplace where you could take a firm and steady stand.
As a movement educator, I appreciate the value of a good floor, and rarely take it for granted. Your action of standing, your weight pressing into the floor allows the floor to press into the soles of your feet — that’s how gravity works! Your skeleton springs, effortlessly, into the upright stance that distinguishes humanity from other species that have evolved in this planetary environment. To feel the ground clearly is to be able to move with power and skill, in a fully embodied expression of human-ness. .
Others must have felt it, too. Like the return of an old friend, people were smiling, warm, open. Emotions were vivid, vocal ministries flowed, Friends lingered in the space afterwards. As I paused to appreciate the shift into newfound stability, a thought came to me: it really is “All About That Base.” The earworm was unleashed (you’re welcome), an irreverent, playful, gentle gleam shone from my eyes, as I turned to greet and embrace my Friends.
“Her great merit is finding out mine – there is nothing so amiable as discernment.” — Lord Byron via BrainyQuote.com
Ah, Lord Byron. Seductive, self-serving, impulsive, yet self-aware and capable of inspiring great good. The quote above has just the right amount of irony and humor. We tend to like people who also like us. Aren’t THEY brilliant?
As I searched for images for this post, most of them related to discernment are clearly related to decision-making. This road, not that one. People obviously in the midst of making weighty and correct judgments. What struck me about Lord Byron’s observation was deeper and more nuanced. It was that “She” could see his merits – his good qualities, the very best of the essential “Him,” imperfect and, well, Byronic, as he was.
Quakers might say that She was able to perceive “that of God” in Byron. This is beyond giving people the benefit of the doubt, or looking for the good in everything and everyone, or other such platitudes, even though those ideas are pretty good. Perceiving “that of God in everyone” requires not that we pick them apart, keeping that which is of God and discarding the rest. Instead, we accept the whole glorious, amazing mess of that person, and then focus on, speak to, relate with, that person as if God Him/Her/Self – The and Their Inner Light – were actually present within. Because it IS.
In a complex or controversial conversation, discernment requires listening through the emotions, the wanderings off point, and the personalities to find the needle of truth in a proverbial haystack of clutter. Assume that somewhere, if you really listen and look, that a hidden treasure is in there. Who would stop looking for a treasure that they knew was right in front of them? And yet, we do. All the time.
Lord Byron was clearly deLIGHTed to be perceived in such a way. It lit him up. When someone discerns my Light, I am drawn to them, and more easily discern the Light within them. Discernment in this way results in harmony, in love, in patience, and in peace.
When have you perceived someone’s Inner Light? Did it change the quality of your interaction? When do you recall a feeling that someone perceived your Inner Light? What effect did that have upon you? Please leave a comment.
Thanks for dropping by! I’m MaryBeth, and I’ve been blogging since 2005. I like to write, and have launched a couple of different sites for the small businesses that I run. However, the promotional pieces I wrote there, while (I hope) informative and entertaining, didn’t often feed my soul.
This blog goes in a different direction. After pondering off and on for a year, I realized that what I really wanted to write about was the spiritual path. Mine has been long and winding, but kind of interesting as I have surveyed the landscape and followed what spoke to me in my life at that time. I’m convinced that the impulse to simplify life is a universal one, and a great place to revisit often on one’s spiritual journeying. Recently, it came to me that it was important that I share these ideas here, and now. I aspire to be practical and down-to-earth, free of drippy spiritual jargon and easy judgments.
A lot of this writing will simply endeavor to make sense of what I find while attempting to align myself with Something Bigger, The Universe, God, the Christ Spirit, whatever vocabulary works for you. I’m learning all the time, and I’d like to learn from you. I’m not sure where I’m headed, except in the most general way – “The End.” I intend to have a good time along the way.
Please introduce yourself in the comments. What brings you here?
When I read Robin Mohr’s post about her choice of three words to shape 2015, it got me thinking and writing. Drawing upon a meme referenced by Chris Brogan, the idea is to reflect and then choose three juicy words that will have the power to focus, inspire, and guide one’s actions (and thoughts and words and LIFE) for the coming year. It seemed a little daunting at first. I have many, many words – how to narrow it down to just three? However, when I became still for a few minutes, the words emerged quite easily. They are:
LIGHT. INTEGRATION. ALLOWING.
All righty, then! Those three words are a kind of personal shorthand, but full of richness for the unpacking. Here follows sort of a word salad of free association. I have only the vaguest notion at this moment what each of these words will look like day to day in 2015. Nevertheless, I share in hopes that you’ll be inspired to come up with your own three words.
LIGHT. Quakers are all about The Light. Holding The Light for people, holding them IN The Light, and ourselves as well. Bringing light to darkness or confusion. The Light is also “that of God in every one,” that essence which can be answered, responded to, and engaged, as the highest and best attributes of ourselves can connect, learn from each other, and perhaps even love one another. EnLIGHTenment, akin to awareness, the Light switching on, like a lightbulb flashing, cartoon-like, over one’s head. Aha! Full-spectrum, waves and particles, speed of LIGHT. And LIGHTness: humor, agility, cheerfulness. “His yoke is easy, and his burden is LIGHT.” How might I embody The Light, be guided by The Light, and share more Light with my clients, friends, family, community?
INTEGRATION. When disparate elements of a system are integrated, they function as a harmonious whole. Integration contains within it “Integrity,” perhaps the core Quaker testimony. The notion of harmony – elements (or people) working together in an aesthetically pleasing way – may bring a gracefulness to my relationships and everyday interactions. The elements remain distinct, retaining their own uniqueness, yet a synergy occurs where “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” How might I recognize opportunities to include those who have been excluded? How can I support the integrity of others as I live into my own?
ALLOWING. It has to do with letting things happen, rather than making things happen. Let things unfold naturally, organically, as they will, without interfering or inserting another agenda. Let people and things be exactly as I find them. The I Ching lists among desirable character traits equanimity, acceptance, and non-judgment. See what IS, before reflexively leaping in to “help.” Ask more questions, be open, seek to understand instead of just to learn. How can I be more present in each moment, and accept the gifts contained therein?
I feel excited to have this template. The words are a compass, not a map. I don’t know the territory yet, but I now have a way to orient as the landscape of 2015 is revealed.
Wanna play? Share your Three Words for 2015 in the comments.